High performance image sensors equip Earth observation satellite

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e2v, a designer, developer and manufacturer of specialised components and subsystems, will supply Thales Alenia Space with high performance CCD image sensors to be used in the European Space Agency's (ESA) Sentinel-3 Earth observation satellite.

Sentinel-3 is part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative to deliver environmental and security services in Europe. Led by the European Commission, it is set up in response to the ever-increasing demands for effective environmental policies.

The CCD55-20 is a high performance, back-illuminated frame transfer CCD image sensor optimised for hyperspectral imaging. This optimisation includes the use of a 'gated dump drain' allowing the readout of selected image lines and the dumping of unwanted data. It also includes the use of graded thickness anti-reflection coating, giving the minimum possible reflection from the silicon surface for all wavelengths of interest.

Sentinel-3 will be used to study sea surface topography, sea/land surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour with a high level of accuracy providing the European Union and its member states with crucial data. It will carry an advanced radar altimeter and a multi-channel optical imaging instrument. The launch of the first Sentinel-3 satellite is planned for 2012.

Brian McAllister, general manager of space and scientific imaging at e2v, said: 'e2v has a long history of providing imaging sensors for earth observation. We are proud to work with Thales Alenia Space to enable global monitoring and meet their demanding needs for this major European project.'

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